The Indian Action Committee (IAC) of Guyana formerly known as the Indian Arrival Committee is a non-profit, non-governmental organization which was established in 2003 and has as its primary objective, the promotion and preservation of the culture and traditions brought by Indian Indentured labourers in 1838. Approximately 239,000 indentured immigrants from India were transported in 245 ships which made 534 voyages across the Kaalaa Paanii to British Guiana, the last being in 1917. The first two ships, the Whitby and the Hesperus landed in 1838.
While just over 76,000 former indentured immigrants returned to India, the vast majority stayed and endured the harsh conditions to make this land their new home. Their immeasurable contributions through innumerable sacrifices have resulted in subsequent generations of their Indo-Guyanese descendants generally living better lives. Today, these descendants continue to be the beneficiaries of the legacy of their industrious ancestors, more so, and especially at a time when the country was experiencing unprecedented economic growth from the late 1980’s up to early 2015.
As the people of Guyana wish to see the country develop and continue to advance towards becoming a modern state, it must be remembered that between 1968 and 1992 when democracy did not exist in Guyana and when the state was eventually bankrupted, many Indo-Guyanese unfortunately, were, as a result of politically directed suppressive manoeuvres by the then authoritarian administration, psychologically and physically abused because of their ethnicity and assumed political affiliation, contributing to some level of erosion of adherence to the culture and traditions of the Indian indentured immigrants which were previously stuck steadfastly to and, for which they tirelessly endeavored to sustain and preserve.
It is this sense of preservation that formed the premise of the establishment of the IAC, and over the past decade, the organization has been relentless in its efforts to promote the rich and diverse traditions and culture that reached these shores one hundred and seventy-eight years ago. These efforts engendered a renewed enthusiasm in advancing the much needed cultural awareness and pride. This provided an impetus, and immensely complemented the efforts of others.
The IAC, with much success, used music, drama and other related activities to foster awareness of the Indian culture and reinstilled the sense of pride which today is being worn as a badge of honour. Today, the annual melas held in all three counties to celebrate and commemorate Indian arrival have become much anticipated events as is the case of the theatrical presentations staged in the city.
The Committee also focuses on specific Education Programs from time to time especially in the area of Alcohol Abuse and Domestic Violence, cultural programs and providing assistance in various forms to Guyanese regardless of their religious and political backgrounds.
Annually, the committee is also able to plan and organize over eight major events i.e. the Melas (Arrival Day and Phagwah), Eid Fest, Lighting of the First Diya (Diwali), Christmas Fest, the Lusignan Massacre Remembrance Ceremony amongst a wide host of other activities in which the proceeds from some of these events are used to cover the committee operational and administrative cost.
The Indian Action Committee intends to work together with any other public or private bodies and religious organizations to better equip this establishment for the benefit of the people of Guyana.